26 October 2020

What are PCOS and Endometriosis?

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PCOS and Endometriosis are being talked about that bit more now, but how many of you actually know what they are and if your may potentially have them??

PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

PCOS is actually a common hormonal condition which is characterised by excess male hormones in women. It can affect up to 10% of women and is related to a lack of ovulation. The main symptom is irregular periods, specifically late periods or too many days of bleeding. Other symptoms could be excess of facial & body hair, acne, hair loss, weight gain and infertility. If you have pain – that would NOT generally mean you have PCOS.

Basically – PCOS is a problem with ovulation which leads to an overproduction of androgens (male hormones) such as testosterone.

Generally, an ultrasound will not tell you if you have PCOS – mainly because polycystic ovaries are quite common as the ovaries change each month.

How can you tell you have PCOS then…

Basically, the best way to know is to have all 3 of the following symptoms:

  • Irregular periods &/or polycystic ovaries (where there are a lot of cysts each month)
  • You don’t ovulate
  • High male hormones – you’d need a blood test to find this out or you may have a lot of facial/body hair
  • other reasons for having high androgens have already been ruled out.

What can you do about it?

Definitely speak to your GP about it if you think you may have those symptoms. However, if you are more into natural remedies then maybe find a good naturopath, nutritionist or hormonal specialist. By cutting out sugar can help as insulin resistance is a main driver of PCOS.

The Dr may want to put you on the pill – but it will only help as long as you are on it for. Also, PCOS means you aren’t ovulating, so why go on the pill which will supress ovulation anyway? Talk to your GP about Metformin – its a diabetes drug but it may be more effective than the pill and other drugs. (Period Repair Manual – Lara Briden p.158).

Endometriosis

What is it? Basically, it is when bits of tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grow in areas other than your uterus; become lesions. They can be anywhere in the body, including the bladder and bowel but most commonly they are found around the uterus and ovaries.

Researchers still don’t know what exactly causes endometriosis and it is quite common with 1 in every 10 women having it – though it can take many years to get it diagnosed. Researchers are looking more and more at the immune system as it shares a lot of similar features as other immune diseases.

What are the Symptoms?

The biggest symptom is pain. Not your usual PMT period pains. The pain is more like throbbing, burning or stabbing pain which can last for quite a few days & can occur between your periods. It can occur at any time if in other parts of your pelvis. Other symptoms can be:

  • Bladder problems – urgency, frequency & painful wees
  • diarrhoea and constipation
  • nausea & vomiting
  • abdominal bloating
  • headaches or migraines
  • fatigue
  • bleeding between periods
  • infertility and recurrent miscarriage

So you can see how it is a whole body problem, not just period pain

What can you do?

If you suspect something is not right and you get similar symptoms then definitely speak to your GP and say you wonder if you have Endometriosis. The only way at the moment to get it confirmed is keyhole surgery. They are looking into finding some sort of blood tests but at present nothing has been found to give a diagnosis.

Unfortunately, there is no cure at present BUT there are options to help relieve the pain and symptoms both conventionally and naturally. So speak to your GP, ask to see a gynaecologist who specialises in this area. It may be that you need excision via laparoscopy to remove the lesions. One of the top Endometriosis surgeons / experts in the country is Chris Mann – who works in Birmingham: https://www.theendometriosisclinic.com/

Otherwise a nutritionist can help as the diet is so important; anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce the inflammatory cytokines in the body. Anita Beardsley is a Bristol based Womens Health Nutritionist: https://www.love-nutrition.co.uk/

As always – seek help and ask for the best ways to help with your pain, don’t just put up with it.

*(picture by Mohamed Hassan on Pixabay)

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